Monday, September 22, 2008

THE SUNRISE REMEMBERS



The Sunrise Remembers

When I started writing as a second career I pulled thoughts and images from my mind and used them as the basis for my stories. I wrote about things that happened to me in my childhood, things in adolescence, and things as an adult. I wrote about my family, my friends, and even a celebrity or two.

It was strange how I would sit down in front of the computer and something would jog loose a memory from a few days ago or a few years ago. Sometimes only one memory would drift down but at other times it was raining memories. All I had to do was stop and collect them.

When I started my fifth book a memory came back to me of life in Clinton, South Carolina. I was transported back to a summer when I was six years old. My mother and father had announced early in the year that they were going to build and operate a corner grocery store. And sure enough the grocery store was built and “Cooper’s Grocery” opened in the spring.

By summer my mother had fallen into a routine of having the store opened by 8:00 and having it close at 7:00. Since the store was on the lot next to our house Daddy hooked up a buzzer people could ring in case my mother was at our house for some reason or other. The buzzer would sound and off she would go.

There were two benches in front of the store and many were the times when I would sit out front on one of the benches between two women known to me as Aunt Ida and Aunt Lula. Aunt Ida was a tall woman who dwarfed Aunt Lula. To me she was a giant and one of the smartest women I have ever known.

Aunt Ida knew everything about everything. She knew all the people in our neighborhood and what their history was. She knew who was kin to who, and who had had some trouble in their past. She was a walking repository of wisdom and knowledge.

I would sit beside her, drinking a soft drink and drinking in everything she said. She loved to talk and I loved to listen. Many times Aunt Lula would censor a certain story before she got into it. “Remember the boy,” Aunt Lula would say with a nod of her head.

I remember one day telling Aunt Ida she was the smartest person I knew. I told her she knew more about everything than anyone else in the world. That made her laugh and she hugged me and said, “No honey, I don’t know much at all. And sometimes I don’t know anything at all.”

“Not you, Aunt Ida, not you,” I countered.

“Honeyboy, when I lay my head on my pillow at night every thought in my head goes away. I go to sleep and my head is as empty as can be, and the same thing happens to you,” she said.

I thought about that and worried that somebody might wake me up in the middle of the night and I wouldn’t know who I was. It also dawned on me after a few days that something had to happen to give us our thoughts and memories back.

I asked Aunt Ida how we had our memories returned to us and she quickly said, “Why the sunrise remembers. Every morning when that sun comes up it brings back your thoughts and memories and my thoughts and memories. It does this for everybody all over the world.”

Later in life whenever I would worry about forgetting something or someone, Aunt Ida’s voice would come back to me, and I would know that the sunrise remembers so that we can’t ever forget. Because of that reason I remember Aunt Ida and I remember those sun drenched days of summer in South Carolina.

Life takes a lot of things away from us but it gives a lot back to us with our memories. That’s why I write my stories and put them in my books, the latest of which is titled THE SUNRISE REMEMBERS.

Jackie K Cooper writes memoirs and is a son of the South.

2 comments:

Maryann Miller said...

What a great story. I like your Aunt Ida and Aunt Lula.

T. Lynn Ocean said...

I was wondering what 'The Sunrise Remembers' meant and how it related to your book. Very cool story. And it makes a perfect title!